Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Lance Sieveking DSC (1896 –1972) – British Aviator Poet, writer and broadcasting pioneer

Lancelot De Giberne Sieveking was born on 19th March 1896 in Harrow, Middlesex, UK.  His parents were Edward Gustavus Sieveking, a timber merchant, and his wife, Isabel Sieveking, nee Giberne.  Lance’s siblings were Valentine E., b.1892, Geoffrey E., b. 1893 and Elenor B., b. 1899. The family lived in Harrow on the Hill, Hendon, Middlesex, UK, before moving to Hastings in Sussex.  The children were educated at home by a governess.

Lance became an active supporter of the suffrage movement.

Lance and his brother, Valentine Edgar, served during the First World War.  Lance enlisted in the Artists Rifles, then joined the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS), which amalgamated with the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) to become the Royal Air Force in April 1918. He served on the Western Front and attained the rank of Flight Lieutenant and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), before being shot down in the area of the River Rhine in 1916 and taken prisoner-of-war by the Germans.

Repatriated on 17th December 1918, after the war, Lance went up to St Catharine's College, Cambridge, where he became friends with another Cambridge student - Eric Maschwitz. They were both editors of the poetry magazine “The new Cambridge”.  Lance went to work as Director of Education at the newly-created British Broadcasting Corporation, which was originally founded in 1922 as a private company by a consortium of radio manufacturers who wanted to create a market to encourage the sale of wireless sets.

Lance was married three times - in 1924, he married April C Quilter, in 1929, he married Victoria "Natalie" Alice Bevan (Ackenhausen -Denny) and in 1949, he married Maisie D Meiklejohn.

With the BBC, Lance went on to produce radio dramas and was a drama script editor from 1940 until 1950.  He retired in 1956. Lance died on 6th January 1972 in Suffolk, leaving a legacy of writing which is in the keeping of the Lilly Library, and consists of "correspondence, radio plays, manuscripts for short stories, for novels, and for nonfiction works, diaries, drawings, and photographs" together with "many photographs from the World War I period showing airplanes, North Africa and from Lance's captivity as a German prisoner-of-war."

Lance’s WW1 poetry collection, “The Cud: Experimental Poems” was published by Mills & Boon in 1922.  (Catherine W. Reilly, “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” published by St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978 - p. 293).

Photograph of Lance in his RNAS uniform - photographer unknown.